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Crystal Cathedral church in cash crunch

GARDEN GROVE, Calif., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Economics are forcing Southern California's Crystal Cathedral to suspend its "Glory of Easter" pageant, sell property and lay off workers, officials say.

A 27 percent decline in revenue in 2009 has prompted the megachurch founded by Robert H. Schuller to cut its televangelist "Hour of Power" programs as part of a series of "tough decisions" made by the cathedral's International Board of Trustees, The Orange County Register reported Sunday.

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Sheila Schuller Coleman, who was appointed leader of the Crystal Cathedral by her father, Robert Schuller, said the economic crisis forced this year's suspension of the Easter pageant, which features angels suspended on wires and a parade of animals, but the extravaganza would be back by 2011 or 2012.

The church also plans to shut down its 20-acre retreat in Rancho Capistrano, leaving 50 employees out of work.

More property in Rancho Capistrano going up for sale is expected to bring about $65 million for the church, the newspaper said.

Orange County philanthropist John Crean had given the church 100 acres of Rancho Capistrano property as a gift. Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles said the church wanted as much as it could get from the sale.

"The city of San Juan Capistrano has imposed a lot of limitations on us regarding what we can do with that land," Charles said. "That and the real estate market have posed a serious challenge in terms of selling the property. But we want to sell it. We're not going to give it away."

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